All eyes will be on Austria’s Markus Brier as The European Tour Member makes his maiden Challenge European Tour appearance of the season on home soil at this week’s MAN NÖ Open.
Brier – who in 2006 became the first Austrian to win on The European Tour when he triumphed at the BA-CA Golf Open presented by Telekom Austria at Fontana Golf Club, his home club in Vienna – is the red hot favourite to lift the title at GC Adamstal, Ramsau, after recording top ten finishes in his last two European Tour outings, at the Open de France ALSTOM and The European Open at The London Golf Club.
Brier has fond memories of his time on the Challenge Tour, after he enjoyed a hugely successful season in 1999 which propelled him onto The European Tour.
Nine top ten finishes secured Brier more than €50,000 in earnings and helped him secure third place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, which guaranteed him full playing privileges on The European Tour International Schedule for the first time.
Despite his success Brier did not have a Challenge Tour victory to his name, but he corrected that anomaly in 2002 when he triumphed at the Austrian Golf Open, a title he again captured two years later.
Brier will be attempting to win the MAN NÖ Open for the second time, having already captured the title when it was part of the Alps Tour in 2005.
Denmark’s Anders Schmidt Hansen also has fond memories of the 6,476 yards, par 70 course at GC Adamstal after claiming his maiden Challenge Tour title there last year.
Another player who will feel in familiar surroundings is home hope Niki Zitny, who finished runner-up at the inaugural Man NÖ Open in 2006 to Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello, who proved he was still very much in form with victory at last week’s Credit Suisse Challenge.
Zitny, whose wife Steffi was the silver medallist in the 800m at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, was the best man at Brier’s wedding in 1998.